For the last time in weeks, the Diamondbacks faced one of baseball’s bottom-feeders on Tuesday night and did what they were supposed to do. Given their upcoming schedule, it had the feel of a breezy late afternoon before a monsoon descends.
In beating the last-place San Diego Padres 6-0 at Chase Field, the Diamondbacks snapped a four-game skid and managed to keep pace with the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West. Both division rivals won their respective games, meaning the Diamondbacks remain 1 1/2 games back of the Rockies and a half-game back of the Dodgers.
“When you lay down the entire body of work,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said, “we’re in a really good spot.”
That’s one way of looking at it. With seven games remaining against the Rockies and three left against the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks are, in fact, in a good spot. They are within striking distance. They won’t need anyone’s help to regain the lead in the division. They’re competing against teams that, like themselves, have exhibited flaws for long stretches throughout the season.
BOX SCORE: Diamondbacks 6, Padres 0
The other side, however, is that the hole they’re in is actually far deeper than it appears. In addition to playing the intra-division games, the Diamondbacks’ remaining schedule is treacherous.
Starting on Thursday, the Atlanta Braves arrive at Chase Field for a four-game set. Next week, the Diamondbacks will travel to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros. When they return home, they’ll have the Chicago Cubs awaiting them for a three-game set.
That’s three out-of-division series against three first-place and likely playoff-bound teams.
“The schedule is the schedule,” Diamondbacks infielder Daniel Descalso said. “There hasn’t been any talk amongst us of who we’re playing. We’re trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves.
“We’ve got the Braves coming in and we’ll worry about the road trip when we get there. It’s no secret that we’ve got the Rockies and the Dodgers a couple more times plus some other good teams mixed in there. Hopefully we’ll be able to raise ourselves to the level of the competition, which I think we’ve done a good job of this year.”
Diamondbacks utility man Daniel Descalso talks about his team’s win over the Padres on Tuesday.
Richard Morin, azcentral sports
There is some truth in that statement, as well. In July, the Diamondbacks took two of three from the Braves. That same month, they split a four-game series with the Cubs, nearly winning all four games. They managed to win a series against the Astros in May.
However, the Diamondbacks are just 34-35 against teams that are over .500, the seventh-best record in the NL. Certainly, sprinkled among those 35 losses are a number of games they feel they could have or should have win, including the three they lost over the weekend in Los Angeles. Of course, there are probably just as many among the 34 they did win in which their opponents could say the same.
“I think everybody inside of that clubhouse knows the challenges we’re facing,” Lovullo said. “We have some very good teams that we’re playing. Maybe they circled it on their schedule some time in midseason, I don’t know. If you’re asking if they’re aware, I think they’re very aware. What I ask them to do is eliminate the noise and concentrate on today.”
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo discusses his team’s skid-busting win over the Padres on Tuesday.
Richard Morin, azcentral sports
With more starts like Robbie Ray gave them on Tuesday night (he was dominant in 6 1/3 innings), with more nights in which the offense continues to tack on runs (it scored four times in the seventh inning), with more good relief work (including from Archie Bradley, who expunged the bad taste of the Dodgers series with a scoreless inning), the easier it will be to imagine the Diamondbacks extending their season.
Or, at least, of still playing meaningful games in the final weekend of the season, when they’ll return to Petco Park to again face the Padres.
Between now and then, they have 20 consecutive games against playoff contenders. The Rockies, meanwhile, have 17 of their 23 remaining against playoff hopefuls while the Dodgers have just 13 of 23.
“It’ll be a real good test,” Descalso said. “If we play well against those teams I think we’ll find ourselves in October playing some more baseball.”
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.